We arrived in Valparaiso and have a new hobby – riding funiculars! Although it didn’t help that the funiculars start running at 7 when we arrived at 6:30 am and had to climb the hill to our hostal with heavy backpacks.
Valparaiso is built a bit like Rio with a shoreline crowded by steep hills behind. The main part of the city is only 500m or so wide, then quickly rises in a series of steep hills with gullies between them. Every hill has a name. We are currently on one of the prettiest hills, called ‘Concepcion’ in a tall wooden Victorian building with stunning views of the city and harbour. The houses remind me very much of the old wooden houses in San Francisco with winding creaky stairs and 15 foot high ceilings.
Here is the view from our hostal:
The city was named a World Heritage site in 2003. Parts of it are very pretty, but the overall feel is a small city in decline. Parts of it are dangerous, and many parts show neglect and disrepair.
Nonetheless, the nice parts have beautiful views, are colourful and have interesting little stores, cafes and restaurants built into the peculiar old buildings. One of the fun bits is that many of the hills still have vintage funiculars that precariously carry people up and down the steepest of the hills for fifty cents. They can be a bit unsettling not only for the peculiar noises they sometimes emit, but also for added ‘authentic’ touches like rails that very clearly bow apart in the middle of some stretches.
Next stop will be North, to plop Christina on a poor unsuspecting horse for her birthday. There are also several excellent observatories nearby so we may do some stargazing if things work out well.